Wausau Approves Mall Rescue Deal Despite Doubts

Some City Council Members Are Skeptical Enclosed Malls Are A Good Investment

Glen Moberg/WPR News

The Wausau City Council approved a $4.1 million loan deal on Tuesday night designed to save its struggling downtown mall, despite reservations expressed by some of the council members.

Mall owner CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. had warned that without the money, the Wausau Center Mall would die. Alderman Keene Winters, however, was not persuaded. He thinks enclosed malls may be a thing of the past.

“There are approximately 970 malls in the United States,” said Winters. “Only six have been built since 2006. In the next 10 years, only about 280 of them will survive.”

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But for downtown businessmen like former mall manager Mark Craig, the loan is a good investment.

“For us, it’s the right step forward to re-energize a really important regional shopping center in downtown Wausau, and I think there will be more good things coming in the months ahead,” he said.

CBL plans to move a Younkers into the space vacated by JC Penney. It would then work to attract new anchors, and perhaps a cinema.

The Wausau City Council approved the deal in an 8-3 vote.